Tag Archives: babies

#allaboutme

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I was tagged by my lovely fellow blogger @SprinkleOfPixie, who writes Baby Pixie And Me, to write a post with ten facts about me that you may not know!

1) I have a very rare allergy

I’m allergic  to my own blood.  It’s an auto immune condition where my blood becomes an allergen sometimes.  It can make me come out in an itchy rash, vomit or get very ill with very little warning and is one of the contributing factors to the swine flu nearly killing me whilst I was pregnant.

2) I’m vegetarian

I stopped eating meat for short periods throughout my childhood but gave it up for good when I was thirteen.  In the eighteen years since I’ve only ever eaten meat when served it accidentally.  I don’t miss it at all and the idea of eating meat now grosses me out, whereas I used to love meat when I wasn’t veggie.

3) I met my husband when I was 23

We got married when I was 26 and had Miss Rose when I was 27.  He left when I was 28 and my divorce was finalised when I  was 29.

4) I’ve never smoked a cigarette

When I was a teenager I hung out with lots of smokers in grungy rock clubs but never tried.  I also never smoked weed or tried any other drugs.  People always assume that was my history but it never appealed and never has and I hate the smell of it still.

5) I started modelling for a while

I tried it for a while and a few people wanted me to keep going but I was too short for fashion modelling and unwilling to pose nude, plus I wasn’t the right look at all so I wouldn’t have got much work even if I had really tried.  My heart wasn’t in it anyway, I felt pretty shit about myself when I did it and genuinely wish I hadn’t done it.  It was a silly impulsive idea I knew I wasn’t cut out for and used to validate my feelings of being unattractive and worthless.  It broke my already low self esteem into shreds.  I’d never encourage my daughters to explore that as an option.

6) I am a runaway fantasist

Part of me always longs to runaway.  To just take what I need, leave everything else, and disappear.  Start fresh.  When I was single with my daughter after my marriage broke down I even researched places I could take her and disappear to.  Now is the only time in my life that desire hasn’t been a prominent lingering urge to be ignored.  Now it only pops up in times of extreme stress.

7) I’m a terrible singer

I have no ear for music, can’t carry a tune, and really can’t hold a note.  Even if I could hit an actual “note” I wouldn’t hold it.  That said I sing with gusto.  My mum and I sang to Copa Cabana at a karaoke in Spain and it was truly dreadful but very enthusiastic.  Fortunately I was drunk.

8) I have HPV

My cervix has abnormal cells with the HPV virus meaning my likelihood of developing cervical cancer is greatly increased.  Three years ago I had to have a biopsy with suspected cancerous cells but luckily they were clear.  You can develop HPV after just one incident of sex without a condom.  There is now a vaccine they’re offering to teenage girls though many are arguing against it claiming it will encourage unprotected sex.  I, however, definitely want my daughters vaccinated.

9) I hated school

I truly loathed school.  So much so that I couldn’t bare the idea of going to university, even now it baffles me that people love it and get excited by it, and so much that I don’t socialise with the group of friends I had even though they’re all still really close.  We aren’t even facebook friends.  I find reminders of that time too hard to deal with.  When I had to look around Miss Rose’s primary school I felt sick. I still feel incredibly awkward going there even though her teachers are super lovely and the school is really nice. I’m scared I transmit my own phobia to her even though I do everything I can to be calm and enthusiastic.

10) Our second daughter was named within weeks of us meeting

You wouldn’t necessarily think two cynical divorcees would be so daft, but within about 4weeks The Boy and I were referring to our future daughter by name.  Even my mum started doing it within a month or so.  When I got pregnant a year later he was so confident that she was the prophesized little blonde girl named so long ago that he wasn’t interested in discussing potential boy’s names because he knew the baby was our daughter.  Turned out he was right.  We found out the sex, she was a girl.  And he’s with us now and she’s a little blondey as he had predicted she would be, with the name given to her before she had even been conceived.

1. Share 10 things about you the person. Not you the parent, the baker or the business.
2. Name check the person who nominated you.
3. Tag 3- 5 others to share 10 things.
4. Enjoy the tidbits of information we all learn about each other.
5. Voila, job done.

I’ll nominate @MrsBaker, @OurRachBlogs, and @Life_Of_Tont

xxx

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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No I Won’t Cover Up

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I am a breast feeder.  I fed my first daughter for nearly 11 months and I’m currently feeding my second daughter who is nearly 8 months.  I have always breastfed on demand, as and when required.  Whether I’m in a restaurant, a shop or the theatre I’ve simply fed my baby because she’s hungry and needs feeding.

Generally my feeding so publicly and without shame has been met with positivity or, for the most part, not been noticed.  Until now.

There is a misconception amongst those who argue vehemently against public feeding that breastfeeding involves some dramatic wafting of a bare breast with milk spraying.  In reality, in my own case and the case of breast feeders I have been around, it would be easy not to know the baby is having a feed at all.  You can’t see anything as there’s a baby head in the way.  It simply looks like a cuddle.  There’s no wafting breasts or spraying nipples because the breast is behind a baby and the nipple and milk are both in their mouth.  On any Saturday night you’ll see more exposed breast flesh for fashion than you’ll see from a breastfeeding mother.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Breastfeeding, Blog, Feminist, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Avina Voicu

This weekend we went on a big family reunion to a remote area on the moors outside Buxton.  There were aunts and cousins, grandparents and grandchildren.  On Sunday we headed en masse to a local pub for a traditional Sunday lunch.

The Knight’s Table in Quarnford, Buxton, has an isolated charm.  The wind whipped and the rain fell, but we hurried inside and it was warm and cosy.  Targeted at families, offering children’s meals and with over the top medieval themed décor, it seemed the perfect location.

I was sniffy about the word “Damsels” being on the ladies toilets whilst the men got to be knights, but I put it aside as it was just part of a theme.

With nearly 30 people in our party we took over the majority of the restaurant area.  Those of us with children stationed ourselves at a back table behind a wooden partition, it seemed sensible given the likelihood of strange noises from tablets and games. and I took a seat in a high backed booth style bench with good back support for feeding.  The rest of the family filled the subsequent tables.

In due course Baby Boo required feeding so, as usual, I cradled her in my lap, slipped a boob out of my nursing dress and latched her on, then continued chatting.

“You need to cover up,” cut through a voice.  I looked up in surprise and saw the woman who had previously seated us.

I looked down at myself in confusion, had I accidentally exposed myself?  No.

I looked back at her and she pointed a finger at Boo.

“There are other people here,” she said crossly.  “You’ll need to cover that up.”

Incredulously I said, “No!”

I was furious.

Besides the fact I was tucked in a corner and surrounded by family, besides the fact I am legally entitled to breastfeed in public without harassment or discrimination, besides the fact that even businesses as well respected as Claridges have publicly apologised and admitted fault for similar incidents, I was furious because I was embarrassed.  I was humiliated. I lost my appetite, gathered up my children, and we left.

As defiantly as I refused to give in to her unacceptable demand, I felt ashamed.  As strong as I felt for continuing to feed, I felt weakened. I felt betrayed.  This woman had seen me doing something legal, normal, natural, which her establishment is required by law to respect my right to do, and instead of behaving appropriately had turned her back on both the law and the history of women’s rights.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero

Photo credit Bohed

One look on TripAdvisor confirmed I am not alone in this experience and other nursing mothers have been similarly harassed in The Knight’s Table.

I chose not to make a scene out of embarrassment and the desire not to negatively impact the experience of an extended family I am only just get to know, but part of me wishes I had.  Part of me wishes I had challenged her on it.  Alerted the matriarch of the family who, she later assured me on learning about the incident, would have defended me passionately.

I should have fought at the time,  but I am choosing to fight now.  No woman should be made to feel that way.  Had I been alone or a first time mother the experience could easily have put me off breastfeeding for life.  I’m a defiant, proud feminist with an established history of feeding and a loyal family at my side and it still made me feel crap.  Other circumstances could have been far harder and nobody has the right to that power.

I didn’t fight immediately but one thing I can assure you is that I am no damsel.  I can fight the dragon myself, and I beg of any other nursing mothers who find themselves in The Knight’s Table to brace yourself, then proudly fight that dragon too.

We will not be bullied, intimidated or shamed.  We are not damsels.  We will fight.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

A Year Ago I Nearly Died

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

People talk about “near death” experiences.  How they see a bright light and get amazing amounts of clarity, maybe think of the people they love.  They talk about how life changing it is, how it focuses them on what they want and need in their lives.  At least that’s the clichéd version seen in film and TV.

My near death experience started a year ago today.  There was no bright light or clarity, there wasn’t even much fear, at least not for me.  For everyone else there was a lot of fear.  A lot.

A year ago today I was eighteen weeks pregnant and I had contracted swine flu, though at the time nobody knew that.  I was ill.  Very ill.  My mother in law came round and found me lying on the sofa in agony, throwing up, and feeling faint.  She was frightened for me and phoned my dad.

When my dad came he was worried enough to phone my mother, which isn’t something that has been known to happen often as he’s not the worrying type.  My mother got me seen immediately at the doctors, the doctor phoned the hospital.  This is where memory starts to get hazy for me.  It’s patchy, I remember bits, but mostly what I’m retelling is things that I’ve been told by those who were there.

My mother phoned Jonathan at work and he came out early, then together me, my mum, Jonathan and Miss Rose headed to the hospital.

I was blacking out.  I remember very clearly begging Jonathan to look after Rose for me.  To love her, to cuddle her.  Whether those words actually made it out or were just in my head I honestly don’t know, but I know I thought I was going to die, and I know I needed him to promise he’d love her.

My mum was driving and shaking me to try and stop me passing out, behind me Jonathan was holding my head trying to stop it going down.  I remember my mum smacking me to wake me up.  Both of them intently trying to stop me disappearing.  But mostly it’s a blur of blackness.  My mum drove up the hard shoulder of the motorway, whizzing past the traffic at the side, and saying “fuck this.”  Rose was in the back wondering what was going on, frightened.

Once we got there and I had been wheel chaired in I was hooked up to tubes and machines, my blood pressure was super low, my temperature was super high.  Blood tests were done, machines were beeping.  I remember my mother in law arriving and gently stroking my hand.  I remember her promising she’d look after the children.  I remember a nurse trying to take a blood test and going wrong twice, blood spraying over her and the floor, and me watching it in slow motion.

I remember begging Jonathan to take me home.  I remember his face set rigid.  I remember my mum telling me no, I had to stay.

I was moved into high dependency and held there being tested for things, IV bags pumping into both hands.  Jonathan was allowed to stay with me.  I needed him with me and they made allowances.  I later realised it was because they weren’t sure I’d make it.

Repeatedly I begged them to check the baby and each time they refused.  They had to stabilise me or there was no point checking the baby.  I had to be okay for the baby to be okay.  I later found out they had assumed the baby wouldn’t have survived anyway.

The next day I crashed hard.  I was unconscious and Jonathan was watching doctors and nurses circling me, trying to revive me, my blood pressure dangerously low, my heart rate plummeting, machines blasting warnings.  Jonathan was watching me die.  He was trying to work out how to tell my mum, how to tell Miss Rose.  How to raise her without me there, how to help her cope with my death.  He’d accepted the baby wasn’t going to survive and now was having to come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t survive either.  He was working out how to say goodbye.

This was one year ago.  I’m typing this at home with Baby Boo in my arms, a healthy and perfect seven month old who not only survived but wasn’t damaged by it.  Jonathan was at my side every step of the way and he still is.  Every subsequent hospital stay he was with me.  He was holding my hair back, he was helping me drag equipment to the toilet and helping me on and off.  He was cleaning me up, helping me eat, watching me sleep.

Everything is okay now.  Better than okay.  My family is gorgeous, my relationship is wonderful, my career is starting to go places.  My dedication I saw in my partner, my mother, my mother in law, these wonderful people who put their all into caring for me and my children in my time of desperate need, have given me a sense of such security and safety.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

And yet I’m not over it.

I feel like I should be.  I feel like I should have moved on.  It’s been a whole year now.  I’m here, my baby’s here, my family is together.  But I’m not over it.

I’m still afraid.  And I know Jonathan’s still afraid.

My immune system never recovered fully.  My body never got back to full strength.  Fighting off the bug whilst sustaining a pregnancy was too much in some ways and I’m left weakened.  I catch every bug going and I catch them hard.  I’ve been collapsed on the ground vomiting whilst Jon’s cleaned me up and cared for the children.  I’ve been violently shaking before passing out whilst Jon’s held my hand and tried to keep me safe.  I’ve been so dizzy that I’ve fallen down the stairs.  I get ill.  I get really, really ill.  Whilst it was a year ago and life has moved on, I keep getting hard reminders of how close I came.  How close I could still get.

I’m not over it.

I’m frightened.

There are practical things I can do to manage that fear.  I’m taking steps to legally protect my family; making sure Jonathan retains control of the children and the business.  I’m trying to keep myself healthy as possible, I eat a healthy diet (chocolate aside) and drink lots of water.

But if I get ill again?  What if next time it’s the real thing?  What if when Jonathan thinks he’s watching me die he really is?

What then?

My children will grow up in this cruel world without the woman who loves them more than anything else on this planet.  Without the woman who would give her life for theirs.  They’ll grow up without me and I have so much to give them.  So much to do for them.

I don’t want to leave my babies.

Last year I almost died.  I almost left my babies behind.  In some ways the year since then has been the best of my life.  In some ways I am the happiest I’ve ever been.  In so many ways now is a wonderful, wonderful time to be alive.

But in some ways I am so afraid that when I lie awake at night it’s all I can think of.  I can’t get it out of my head.  Last year I almost died and there’s nothing stopping me from being there again except chance and luck.

I’m not over it yet.  I don’t know if I ever will be.  I don’t want to leave my babies.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

When Will I Stop Breast Feeding?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’ve been breastfeeding baby B since birth and she’s now seven and a half months.  For the first five and a half months she only had milk from me, and then I started introducing solids and now she’s a huge food fan as well as being a true devotee of the boob.

So the question starts coming up a lot now, when will I stop breastfeeding?

I fed Rose until nearly 11 months.  I had hoped to go for a year but actually was happy to stop when I did.  I was feeling trapped and frustrated by the process, I was hoping to get her onto a bottle for at least part of the time but she wouldn’t go near one, and finally my body made the choice for me.  She couldn’t get enough milk out and was getting upset and angry, biting me and crying, and I finally said it was time.  I had missed my goal of a year but it was time.

With Boo, who knows?

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blog, Breast Feeding Blog

Photo credit WerbeFabrik

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum 2 years of breastfeeding.  Whilst I have no negative feelings about the idea of breastfeeding for 2 years, I’m also not wedded to the idea.  I understand why it is best for her, and part of me thinks I should be more dedicated to achieving 2 years, but I’m not.  I might do it, it would be nice to, but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up over it.

I know I’m not keen to stop now regardless of what the health recommendations are, but equally so I’d like her to start taking a bottle as well.

I don’t want to stop because I love it.

I love that it’s something special for she and I that nobody else has with her.  She’s such a social creature, loves going to others, has no anxiety when she can’t see me.  Selfishly, I am aware, the fact that she depends on me for breast feeding gives me a feeling of being special in her life.  I know that I’m her mummy and I’ll always be special, I’ve not breastfed Rose for more than 3 years but I’m still very definitely special in her life.  But still, this babyhood dependency on breasts is incredibly short lived.  I’m not ready to lose it.

I love that it calms her and soothes her.  When she had her vaccinations she cried, but as soon as I stuck a nipple in her mouth she calmed down immediately and started suckling happily.  When she’s rolled off her play mat and hit her head on a chair she’s cried, but breastfeeding instantly calmed her again.  When she’s been poorly being able to snuggle into my chest and feed has calmed her when she’s been at her worst.  I am not keen to give that up.  When Rose is distressed it takes so much more than just popping a boob out and latching her on.  She needs so much more.  The simplicity of breastfeeding to end her pain, reassure her she’s safe, make her illnesses less distressing, it’s something incredible and I don’t want to lose that.

I love that it settles her to sleep.  When she’s tired, rubbing her eyes and getting grouchy, she will fall asleep with cuddles sometimes, or just where she is.  But most of the time she gets crankier and crankier as she gets more and more tired.  A sure fire way to settle a tired and irritable baby is by cuddling her up with a breastfeed.  She sucks away until she falls asleep with an arm around my boob and snuggles in, completely contented.  When Rose is tired and irritable it takes more.  She needs stories and darkness and calm, she needs wind down and settling.  Sometimes she’s so tired that she won’t go to sleep, as bizarre as that seems to me.  Giving up that easy settle of breast feeding isn’t something I’m keen to race to.

In a similar vane I love that breast feeding keeps the nights quiet.  Other than occasions when she has a cranky night, the baby at night is the easiest one in the house to deal with.  She falls asleep in her co-sleeper crib then, at some point in the night, shuffles her way into our bed and latches on to my boob.  If she wakes up she just reattaches herself and goes back to sleep.  If she’s sad she reattaches herself and feels better.  There’s no walking around in circles trying to settle her.  There’s no crying baby disturbing the whole house.  I don’t even have to sit up.  She just attaches herself and we all sleep soundly.  Of course, the downside is I have to sleep in the same optimal breastfeeding position every night which gives me a bit of cramp, and I have to sleep with my boobs out which drips milk onto our sheets, but that is far preferable to any alternative.  I don’t worry about night time.  The big kids, on the other hand, with Rose’s separation anxiety and Z’s night terrors, can be quite a challenge.  Indeed, the night time is the time I’m most keen to keep feeding through!

So, with all these positives, why would I want to stop?

Well, I don’t fully want to stop yet but equally so I’d value her being able to take a bottle occasionally for a number of reasons.

I want some alone time with my man.  I miss him.  We’ve only ever been parents in our relationship, we had none of those heady child free days even when we were first dating, but we did occasionally have nights off where we’d send the children to grand parents and we’d go out for dinner, have a few too many drinks, then come home and (mum, look away for a moment) get down to some seriously excellent sex.  Our love life and dating life is now done on the hurry.  It’s quick whilst the baby is asleep.  It’s let’s go out for dinner but somewhere that’s pram accessible, and never with too many drinks.  I’d love a night to just be with him.  I miss him.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

With two bigger children I am sometimes a little unable to parent them properly because I’m attached to a baby.  If a fight breaks out or a toilet crisis occurs I either need to leave the bigs unattended in a time of need, or pull a feeding baby off my nipple and let her scream in despair whilst I sort them out.  If she took a bottle I could sort out both.

As work gets more and more busy, meetings occurring and events that I need to attend, I’m either taking the baby with me or I’m leaving her.  Currently leaving her can only happen for an hour or two at a time before she needs another feed, or I can take her and breastfeed at the time.  I’ve been perfectly happily getting on with breastfeeding her in various locations and have no embarrassment about doing it, but there are times it’s tricky.  I have to find somewhere to sit, sometimes not easy, I can’t walk around, meaning sometimes things have to be delayed to accommodate it.  It’s possible but it poses a challenge, and one which I could avoid if she took a bottle enough for her to go to her grandmothers for the duration of a work event.

What I definitely don’t want again is the all-or-nothing I had with Rose.  She absolutely wouldn’t take a bottle and when I physically couldn’t feed her anymore she was forced to scream and scream whilst her father tried to force her onto a bottle and I sat downstairs crying.  I hated it.  I hated myself.  I felt like a failure and a cruel and horrible mother.  My ideal situation would be that she will take a bottle happily, and continue to breast feed until she naturally comes to a stop because she and I are both ready.  Perhaps before 2 years, perhaps after, I’m not committed to either, but at a time that feels right for the two of us.

Until then?  Until then I’ll just keep making bottles available for her and I’ll keep feeding for as long as I physically can.  My relationship is stable and not suffering for our lack of alone time and I’m managing to balance working and parenting a baby in a way that is definitely hard but somehow I’m muddling through, and the bigs are remarkably accommodating and accepting of the new situation.  We are not at a point where I’m even considering forcing her off completely, but we are at a point where I can see the definite benefit of her taking both a boob and a bottle.

How long we’ll go for I honestly don’t know, but for the time being I’m definitely not looking to stop.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Working Mums… Kudos

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Today I experienced on a microscopic scale what “normal” working mums experience daily.

Usually my working life sees me sitting at home in my pyjamas working on my laptop whilst my oldest daughter crashes around the place and my baby daughter breastfeeds.  Now don’t get me wrong, it brings with it it’s own unique set of challenges.  Balancing working and child raising whilst trying to do both at the same time, in the same house, day in day out is uniquely complex and I’ve written before about struggling with it.  I never that my work or my family have had the attention they deserve.  However, I also don’t feel that I’m not getting enough time in the company of my children.  Other than the three hours a day Miss Rose is at nursery, we are pretty much glued to one another.

Today I had a meeting about my book, and that meant I was leaving my girls with their grandma.  Miss Rose adores her grandma and has had time with her on many occasions, but my baby girl has barely been parted from me sine she was born seven months ago, almost to the day.  The only times we’ve been separated have, indeed, been when I’ve been going in the shower or doing Miss Rose’s bedtime.

Bracing myself to leave my baby girl even in the most trusted hands of her grandmother was something that I had to process.  And this was just for a one off, I won’t be doing it regularly!

Then there was the challenge of actually getting ready.

Firstly, I’m a different body size and shape to last time I had to wear anything remotely smart.  I’m queen of leggings and stretchy waist bands, comfy t-shirts and hoodies.  I’m slouchy boots and fluffy socks.  Before Baby Boo was born I was a trim size 8, but having a second baby since then has left me larger with boobs and a bum that weren’t there before, but a wardrobe full of clothes designed for someone lacking in those areas.

Whilst Miss Rose bounced on my bed, pulled the sweaters out from my wardrobe, packed numerous soft toys into her backpack, and sang to me, I tried on so many different outfits trying to cobble together something that was both smart… and I could pull up past my thighs.  I got stuck in a rather fetching emerald green dress.  I nearly broke the zipper on a black swing skirt.  I has my breasts crushed into my rib cage by a nice shirt.  Looking longingly at my drawer that is entirely dedicated to the black stretchy leggings I usually dedicate my life to, I eventually squished myself into a skirt that was both a respectable length and I could get over my bottom, and found a smart sweater that I could breathe in that didn’t say GEEK across the front in huge letters.  Huzzah!

Then I had to attempt footwear.  I have no worn high heels in many months.  Indeed, well over a year.  Well over a year and a half.  I put some on.  Then I fell over.  Miss Rose thought it was hysterically, whilst I cursed about my painful ankle.  Then I reminded myself that I am a proud feminist.  That thinking I should be crippling myself in high heels was just my inner victim of the patriarchy and I am stronger than that.  I can rise above it.

I compromised on a pair of very low heeled Mary Janes, primarily because all my super comfy flats are not in the least bit smart, mostly scuffed, and often with sequins.  My feminist self begrudingly accepted that whilst I don’t agree in the least bit with wearing heels being essential for being professional, I was at least able to comfortably walk and did look smart.  As beautiful as the patent stilettos may be, they’re the work of the devil himself.

Whilst Baby Boo howled that she needed to be fed, Miss Rose crashed around in her underwear apparently oblivious to my shrieks of “ROSE PUT YOUR LEGGINGS ON!”, and I discovered a possible mascara allergy as I blinked my burning eyes frantically in the mirror, I eventually managed to get myself dressed, brushed, and enough make up on that my perpetual exhaustion was masked.

As I sat on the sofa giving Baby Boo a last breastfeed before her stay with grandma I realised just how challenging this must be day to day for “real” working mums.  I thought about my own mother who did this every single day from when I was six weeks old.  I thought about my step son’s mother who is doing this every day now.  I have the luxury of this being an occasional novelty for a short period of time, indeed I was back with her two hours after leaving her, and I still found it challenging on both an emotional and a practical level.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Working mothers of the world I doth my cap to you.  What you do is not easy.  Whether you do it because you love your job and don’t want to give it up, or because you simply have no other choice financially, I know it isn’t easy.  I know that as a half stay at home half working mum I have this amalgamation of both worlds and I am incredibly fortunate.  I know that doing a job I love as much as I do makes me one of the most blessed women in the world.  I know that saying goodbye to my baby girl for the first time was incredibly difficult and I don’t have to do it again for… well.. ages!  I know that you have to do it constantly and, no matter why you’re going out to work, that is something you have to face in a way I do not.

Stay at home mothers are so often pitted against working mothers in a “who is mother superior?” way.  Is the mum at home dedicating her life to her children better?  Is the mum going to work providing for and inspiring her family better?

My limited experience tells me the competition is bullshit.  I was fried and anxious by a toe dipping into the world of the working mother.  I am fried and anxious by my regular half and half life.  Basically being a mum is frying and exhausting, let’s be honest.  But to working mums I say kudos.  I don’t normally taste your world and it sure is hard.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

This Is Hard

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I love my children.  I love them so much.  But raising them is the hardest challenge I have ever taken on in my entire life, and it’s one with no end in sight, no breaks.  I can’t put it down at the end of the day, I can’t walk away if it gets too tough, I can’t take a couple of weeks off to let myself recover.  I can’t take time off sick, which I could really use, and I’m on call 24 hours a day.

I love my children.  But being a mum is so hard.

My eldest daughter is the love of my life.  She is sweet and smart and funny.  She is loving and kind and gentle.  She makes me intensely proud of her day in day out, and I pine for her when we are apart.

Last night, after I had dealt firmly with a particularly difficult tantrum, I told her that I need to teach her how to function in society.  That I get angry with her not because she’s a bad girl, but because I need to teach her not to use bad behaviour.  I asked if she would rather grow up to have a home and a partner and children like I do, with a house full of happiness and fun, or if she wants to grow up to be alone and unhappy.  I told her that if she wants happiness and people around her I need to teach her not to behave like that.

Cuddled up in my lap, with tears streaked on her face, she told me she wants happiness when she grows up.  She told me she wants to be happy like she is when she’s with her nanny, not with me.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More Blog, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Greyer Baby

I broke my heart on the inside, but on the outside gave her a kiss and told her I’m happy when she’s with me.  Then I lay her down in bed and stroked her hair and stayed with her until she fell asleep.

She wants to be happy like when she is with her grandmother, not with me.

She is happier when she is not with me.

I cried.  I cried and I cried and I cried.

I phoned my mum, she told me it was nonsense.  I cried to Jonathan, who told me it was nonsense.

The thing is I know it is nonsense.  I know she said it to hurt me, she’s pushing my buttons to make a point.  I know that when I was in hospital and didn’t see her because I was so ill that she fell apart because she missed me so much.  I know that when she is poorly it’s me she needs.  I know when she’s sad it’s cuddles from me she craves.  I know.  I know that when she goes to nanny’s for sleepovers I get several Facetime calls because she misses me.  That she often cries for me in the night.  I know.

But even though I know the words are designed to hurt me, it doesn’t stop them from hurting me.  And right now I am so very tired.  And when I’m tired I’m vulnerable.  When I’m vulnerable I’m more easily hurt.

My baby daughter is the love of my life too.  She is my joy.  When she looks at me and laughs I have burst into tears of happiness.  The way she gazes at me adoringly fills me with warmth.  I’m watching her personality develop and she is becoming the most happy, adventurous, bold little girl.

She is breaking me.

She is in a phase where at around midnight she wakes up.  Not just wake up and be settled again, but wake up and be ANGRY.

Last night it was about half past eleven.  She woke up and she cried.  She howled.  She raged.

I tried breastfeeding her, she bit me.  I tried rocking her, she thrashed around.

How Jonathan slept through it I do not know because it was loud.  I’d have stayed put and just persevered but I feared she would wake up but big two, and three awake children was more than I could face.

So I took her downstairs and walked around with her, she cried but didn’t scream.  I went for a wee and put her down, she screamed.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Profile 31

Eventually I went back upstairs and just rocked her in bed and cried whilst she cried.  Eventually Jonathan woke up and offered a sympathetic hand on my back.  Even more eventually she fell asleep.  Blissful, blissful sleep.

I love my children so very much.  I adore them.  But this is so hard.

My big girl knows how to hurt me and does it.  My baby girl is on a one girl mission to melt my brain.

I love my children but this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  And there are no breaks.  And no escapes.

I don’t begrudge it.  I would never be without them.  But I am tired.

And this is hard.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Not The Banana!

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Before my first daughter arrived I had very little experience of children.  Even less of babies.  Not through a particular desire to avoid them, if one was handed to me I’d fuss over it, but more through a lack of desire to seek them out.  Other people’s children make me anxious.

Because of this, I really wasn’t sure what to do most of the time and tended to make it up as I went along.  Through trial and error I’d come to conclusions about how to do things in a way I felt most comfortable with and seemed to be most successful.  This was true of bedtimes, routines, co-sleeping, and weaning.

The arrival of Baby B has given me a more solid base to know what I’m doing.  I’m more confident and when it was time to start weaning I felt like I knew what I was doing.  But I wasn’t sure it would work this time.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit TshirtRevolution

Miss Rose is a foodie and loves to eat, always has done.  I loved weaning Rose; it was so much fun and it was something she loved so it was easy, and her enjoyment in food has continued.  My step son Z is really the only other child I’ve experienced eating and it’s a completely different matter.  He doesn’t like food, and often seems distressed by the idea of eating.  Whilst my methods worked brilliantly for Rose, perhaps they wouldn’t work at all for Baby B, and then it’d be like learning from scratch all over again.  What would I do if she hated it?!

After all, the way I weaned Rose was completely different to how children used to be weaned.  Indeed, my mother finds my methods very, very stressful.

When weaning my brother and I the process was clean and simple.  She pureed foods, carefully spooned them into our mouths, and wiped up any mess as it happened.  As we got bigger she started introducing lumps and textures until we were eventually eating solids.

I have a more… artistic approach.

I just give them food.  I remember the look of horror on my mother’s face when I handed the seven month old Rose a banana.  How that little girl loved it, she smushed it in her hands, she crushed it in her gums, she smeared it in her hair and over her face, she licked the banana slime off her fingers and burbled with glee,

“But it’s such a mess!” howled my poor mother.  “She’s not even eating it!”

“No, but she’s EXPERIENCING it,” I explained.

Because that’s what food is.  It’s an experience.  It’s not just about survival and getting the right calories, vitamins and proteins into yourself to get through the day.  It’s about the flavours, the textures, the smells.  It’s about socialising and enjoying one another’s enjoyment.  Food is fun and interesting, and I want them to learn that.

J.J. Barnes, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Avita Lchn

So I hand them the banana and let them experience it in whatever way gives them that pleasure and excitement.  The actual real eating they will learn over time.

Baby B is going the same way.  Watching her with spaghetti O’s is a thing of glory.  Her love of naan bread is spectacular.  Her desire to shovel yogurt into her face as she merrily misses and coats her eyebrows in it is fantastic.  When she smushes cucumber into a watery pulb she’s thrilled.  I’ll be giving her a banana soon, but not until my mum is there… because her horror is part of the experience too.

It’s messy but my goodness this child is having fun.  She loves it.  She gets excited by food.  She experiences it.

Poor Z finds this completely bizarre and I feel so sad for him because he’s missing out.  Because food is such a fantastic experience if you enjoy it.

If you’re considering baby led weaning I would highly recommend it.  You just have to prepare for the mess.  Sure it’s easier in some ways to do the purees, and you’re almost certain they’ll get a belly full of food more effectively, and that’s likely they’ll sleep better because they’re full.  There are many advantages to puree feeding that can’t be knocked.  But if you have the stomach for it, and a good steam cleaner, baby led is absolutely brilliant fun.

I’m planning on taking her to an Indian restaurant soon.  Miss Rose’s devotion to chick pea curry comes from an early exposure to authentic Indian cuisine, and sure makes our own curry addiction easier.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!